Jacksonville State (9-3) at Tennessee-Martin (3-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, December 31, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Skyhawk Arena (5,000) -- Martin, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: Jacksonville State 5-0, Tennessee-Martin 3-2. Away Record: Jacksonville State 2-3, Tennessee-Martin 0-8. Neutral Record: Jacksonville State 2-0, Tennessee-Martin 0-0. Conference Record: Jacksonville State 1-0, Tennessee-Martin 0-1. Series Record: Jacksonville State leads, 35-20.
GAMES NOTES: In an Ohio Valley Conference battle on New Year's Eve the Jacksonville State Gamecocks clash with the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks at Skyhawk Arena.
The Gamecocks rolled to a convincing 83-62 victory over Tennessee Tech on Saturday in their conference opener. The victory was the sixth in the last seven games for Jacksonville State and helped it bounce back from a 59-55 loss on the road to Nebraska. The Gamecocks are just 2-3 in away games this year but won't have to deal with that in their next two games against Belmont and Tennessee State.
Things have not been going so well for Tennessee-Martin which comes into this contest sporting just a 3-10 overall record. The Skyhawks were dropped, 65-60, by SE Missouri State in their conference opener which was the fifth consecutive setback for them. Last season Tennessee-Martin did not record a win in 16 conference games. The Skyhawks get perennial league favorite Murray State at home in their next matchup.
Last season Jacksonville State swept the season series to extend its all-time series lead to 35-20.
The Gamecocks shot at a 54.9 percent clip and limited Tennessee Tech to just 37.1 percent shooting in the win on Saturday. Jacksonville State also had the edge in points from 3-point range (21-9), the charity stripe (20-13) and off of turnovers (24-9). Brian Williams led four players in double figures with 18 points.
Jacksonville State has really held opponents under wraps this year. The Gamecocks are allowing only 59.7 points per game and 41.5 percent shooting to foes. That has helped make up for the squad's rather lackluster offensive production. The Gamecocks are scoring the 10th fewest points per game (64.9) in the OVC, while shooting at just a 42.2 percent rate from the field. Jacksonville State also ranks near the bottom of the conference in rebounding (31.7 pg). Darion Rackley (13.9 ppg) is one of four players averaging in double figures. Tarvin Gaines (12.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg), Ronnie Boggs (11.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Williams (11.1 ppg, 3.3 apg) are also reliable scorers, but no other player on the roster puts in more than 4.4 points per game.
In the loss to SE Missouri State the Skyhawks actually had a 30-27 lead at halftime after leading by as many as 15 points in the first half. Tennessee- Martin fell apart down the stretch shooting just 33.3 percent in the second half, while allowing SE Missouri State to hit an even 50 percent of its shots from the floor.
The defensive efforts from Tennessee-Martin have been less than stellar this season. The Skyhawks are getting lit up for 75.3 points per game on 43.3 percent shooting. While they do score relatively well (67.8 ppg), the Skyhawks have not been a very efficient squad hitting on an OVC-worst 39.4 percent of their shots from the field. Myles Taylor (16.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg) is both the top scorer and rebounder on the roster and the focal point for the squad. He has scored in double figures in all but one game this season and has a pair of double-doubles. Mike Liabo (13.5 ppg) and Justin Childs (10.0 ppg) are also scoring in double figures but neither shoots above 40 percent from the field.
The high pressure defensive effort and the balanced scoring attack of the Gamecocks will more than likely overwhelm the hapless Skyhawks.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Jacksonville State 72, Tennessee-Martin 60
12/31 10:32:26 ET